Keep these tips in mind while training:
- Don’t yell at your dog to be quiet—it just sounds like you’re barking along with him.
- Keep your training sessions positive and upbeat.
- Be consistent so you don’t confuse your dog. Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time you dog barks inappropriately. You can’t let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some times and not others.
Barking at passersby:
- If he barks at people or animals passing by the living room window, manage his behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room. If he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard, bring him into the house to manage the situation. Never leave your dog outside unsupervised all day and night.
- Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him any attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to him, don’t touch him, and don’t even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat.
Barking when confined:
If your dog is in his crate or confined to a room behind a baby gate or other barrier, he may bark because he wants to be with you.
- Turn your back and ignore him.
- Whenever he stops barking, turn, praise him, and give him a treat.
- Make a game of it. As he catches on that being quiet gets him a treat, lengthen the amount of time he must remain quiet before being rewarded.
- Start small. Reward him for being quiet for just a second or two. Work up to longer periods of quiet.
Desensitization and counter conditioning:
Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing him to bark. Start with the stimulus (the thing that makes him bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (treats!).
Barking at dogs:
Dogs that are afraid of other dogs will often bark at them.
- Have a friend with a dog stand out of sight far enough away that you know your dog won’t bark at the other dog.
- As the friend and dog come into view, start feeding your dog lots of very yummy treats. Keep feeding treats until the friend and dog are out of sight.
- Ask your friend and her dog to gradually walk closer.
- Don’t try to progress too quickly; it may take days or weeks before your dog can pay attention to you and the treats without barking at the other dog.
Teach your dog the “Quiet” command:
It may sound nonsensical, but to stop your dog from barking, first teach him to bark on command.
- Give you dog the command to “speak.” Have someone immediately make a noise—such as knocking on the door—that is sure to make your dog bark.
- Let him bark two or three times, then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose.
- When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.”
Once your dog can reliable bark on command, teach the “quiet” command:
- Start in a calm environment with no distractions.
- Tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose.
- Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.
Intruder at the door:
Teach your dog to react to the doorbell by going to his special place (his bed or perhaps a mat near the door) and lying quietly while the “intruder” comes into the house.
- Start by tossing a treat on his mat and telling him to “go to your place.”
- Have him go to his place before you give him the treat.
- When he’s reliably going to his mat to earn a treat, up the ante by opening the door while he’s on his mat. If he gets up, close the door immediately.
- Repeat until he stays on his mat while the door opens.
- Then increase the difficulty by having someone ring the doorbell while your dog is on his mat. Reward him if he stays in place.
Other suggestions: Stimulate your dog. Make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.